Author Archives: Rachel
Going to the Dogs!
I’m handing this blog over to my husband for a moment because he needs to tell you about the coolest thing he’s done in a long time. Ladies & gentlemen, Richie Wilson:
There are a few things in life that I really, really love. For those that know me, it comes as no shock when I say that I love my wife, training in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, riding a motorcycle, and my dogs…I friggin’ love dogs. I love my dogs, I love dogs I meet on the street, I love my friend’s dogs and I love dogs that I have never even met before.
That’s why when the boom was suddenly lowered and I was told that my job would be no more, I knew that this was the opportunity I had been waiting for to find some way to work with dogs. I needed to get the best training available so picking a school was a no brainer – I was going to make the most of my time off and spend it at Anthony Jerone’s School of Dog Training (http://DogSchoolNY.com). If you live in the 5 boroughs (especially Queens) and you are a dog person, then you who Anthony is. For many years I would drive down Francis Lewis Blvd, see his school and always think how cool it would be to be fortunate enough to work with “man’s best friend”.
Let me jump back a few years and tell you of my first interaction with Anthony. Everyone who knows me knows about the love I have for my Rottweiler, Elvis, who passed away. It was Anthony who is partially responsible for Elvis being the greatest dog I have ever known.
Elvis was 7 months old when I rescued him from a kill shelter and a rambunctious 7 month old Rottweiler can be a HUGE handful to deal with – especially one with no known obedience training. Luckily I found out about a free doggy boot camp Anthony runs on Saturday’s at Crocheron Park, Queens starting every April (http://www.dogschoolny.com/boot.html). After only 3 visits to the boot camp, Elvis was learning basic obedience (heel & sit) and that would eventually help him to become that dog that would impact my life in a way I never thought an animal could.
Now that I got that brief back story out of the way, let me tell you about http://DogSchoolNY.com . Anthony Jerone has over 40 years experience & is the ONLY trainer certified by both New York City & New York State and is the ONLY dog training school licensed by New York State. When first starting at Anthony’s school, I thought I knew a lot about dogs – more than the average person knows – but it turns out that what I knew could fit in a thimble compared to what I would know when I finished his course.
During my time there I learned everything from animal CPR, “new school” and “old school” training methods and even spent a weekend in NJ learning attack dog training – a weekend that I loved and at the same time absolutely terrified me! Imagine being chased down by a Belgian Malinois and having that dog latch onto your arm & not letting go until the release command was given
Have no fear, attending the attack class is optional but I strongly recommend taking it (although it doesn’t tickle).
What makes his school awesome is that YOU GET TO SPEND 150+ HOURS ACTUALLY WORKING WITH AND TRAINING DOGS!!!!
Who knew that after just a few minutes with a dog, I could get results like this:
and of course any chance I get to work with a Rottweiler, I jump on it!
If you are a person who wants to make dog training a career, works in the animal field, or just wants to understand your four legged friends better, this is the school to go to. There are both morning and night classes and you can go either full or part time. Luke Skywalker went to learn from the master Yoda and if you want to learn about dogs and how to train them, go to the Yoda of dog training, Anthony Jerone! I can’t thank the guys at http://DogSchoolNY.com enough for all they have taught me!
These days, I’m back to producing television shows but I couldn’t be happier training dogs at night. If you’ve ever thought about learning how to train dogs, I can’t possibly recommend Anthony Jerone and Dog School NY highly enough. Follow them on twitter (@DogSchoolNY), like em on facebook (http://facebook.com/DogSchoolNY) and DEFINITELY check out one of their FREE boot camp classes this summer (http://www.dogschoolny.com/boot.html).
PS! If you want me to train your pooch, tweet me at @OhSitTraining or email me at OhSitTraining@gmail.com. We make SIT HAPPEN!
And nearly a year later…THE PICTURES!
Ok, so it took me a minute. But I’m finally prepared to share some of our wedding pictures. Because they are AWESOME.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Before I share the link to the rest of the pics, let me tell you why these were so important and why it took me so long to even look at them. Something I learned, that I will now share with you is this: it is virtually impossible to THROW a major event and ATTEND a major event at the same time. So while everyone told me our wedding was one of the best they’d ever been to, I had to see the pictures to understand their experience. Because my memories of that night are more along the logistical/operational end of the neurotic disaster spectrum.
Richie wanted to pour through the photos immediately but I just couldn’t. I needed a way to make it more special, somehow, before I could bring myself to even take a peek. So he planned date for us- fondue & wine- we brought the laptop & with a bottle of champagne in hand, we looked through them.
And I bawled. And I completely fell in love with every single one. And all at once, I knew the crazy was worth it.
A HUGE thank you to Don Hwang, our amazing photographer for the rest of these pictures: http://richierachelwedding.shutterfly.com/
The most beautiful bouquet I’ve ever seen.
There was one part of my wedding that was so unique & special that I recommend every bride incorporate it. A vintage brooch bouquet. I first became aware of Amanda Heer (www.fantasyfloraldesigns.com ) shortly after my engagement when a friend sent me a link to 10 unique wedding ideas. It included her brooch bouquets. And I was smitten.
It’s basically this: instead of carrying flowers down the aisle, you carry a bouquet created out of family heirlooms. I was struck by the beauty of the antique brooch bouquets I saw on Amanda’s website, but I was a little protective of my family treasures & couldn’t imagine unearthing them all from the depths of my dresser. Because that’s where they go. But ultimately it occurred to me that I might enjoy them more by actually using them instead of burying them all in a drawer.
I spent about a year collecting meaningful pieces. And it wasn’t hard. I asked family & a few close friends to give me something special to include & I was stuck by how important some of the pieces were. Here are a few that were so profound to me:
Putting these things in the mail was pretty much the scariest part. But Amanda comes with some serious endorsements; she’s been featured on ABC, NBC, WeTV, Bravo, she was voted Trendsetter of the Year in 2010 & Wedding Wire in 2011, she’s been Best of The Knot- the list goes on & on. So I insured the eff out of that package & sent it off. And then I chewed off my nails every single day that ticked by while I awaited the return of my most priceless possessions.
When the box arrived from Amanda & I took my bouquet out, I actually cried. It was beyond just beautiful, it was a collection of my life, my family, our history. And walking down the aisle with it was all the more meaningful- relatives no longer with me felt a part of my big day. It was beyond just a “Something Old” fulfillment- I was carrying my family with me.
After the ceremony, I displayed the bouquet next to a corkboard I’d made that highlighted each individual piece so our guests could appreciate the significance.
Today, I’ve put the bouquet in a shadow box in my living room. And I admire it every day. It’s a much more noble life for those heirlooms than the back of my dresser drawer.
If there was one component of my wedding that I would recommend to every single bride, it’s Amanda’s brooch bouquet. It still chokes me up to think about it.
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/broochbouquets
MAAAAAAKKKEEUUUPPPPPPPP!!!!!!! (cue powder puff to the face)
The real unsung hero (/potential villain) of any wedding day is the makeup artist. And I should admit this right off the bat: I’m a control freak about makeup & I pretty much hate anyone who attempts to do mine. It’s no fault of the artist, it’s just that I’ve had my somewhat clunky features for 31 years now & I know the tricks to play up the good stuff & try to hide the things I hate. And there’s no way, cute little makeup lady with delicate features, that you’re going to pull out some eye shadow and know better what to do. So I’m inherently a skeptic. Which I explained at length to makeup guru Kristen Therese (http://www.kristentherese.com) before our makeup trial, such that her feelings would be spared when she was inevitably insulted.
But then guess what? I actually loved it. In fact, Richie STILL says to this day that when Kristen did my makeup, it was the prettiest I’d ever looked (which I’m choosing not to take as an insult but more as a reflection of why she’s won The Knot’s Best of Weddings for 2012 & 2013). So when the trial went well, I knew she was my girl. With caveats, of course. I’d be doing 90% of my own makeup (told you about that control freak part), but she could do the remaining facial components that I wasn’t hung up on (you’re just never going to see me without a liquid liner cat eye and it’s time you accept that).
On the big day, Kristen showed up at the hotel bright & early and dove right in, making my bridesmaids and my mom look absolutely beautiful. I was pretty much on the verge of a nervous breakdown all day, so my plans to perfectly put on my own face went just about out the window (I managed the eyeliner, obvi). Kristen calmed my nerves (with the help of champagne) and made me look and feel beautiful.
Not only did I leave the hotel looking great, Kristen worked her cute booty off all night touching me up, fixing my lipstick and making sure the makeup held. And you might take that for granted, but let me tell you- without her, I would have had my face in a compact all night making sure I was camera ready. There was a level of comfort and relaxation knowing someone had my back. Or my face, actually.
Don’t just plan on doing your own makeup on the big day. Because you can’t. 100 crazy things are going to be happening & knowing you can hand off how you look to a professional is going to keep you sane.
I have a hair god. A god of hair. His name is Scott Wasserman, he’s the owner of NYC salon “Hair & The City” (http://www.hairandthecitynyc.com) and he is a GAME CHANGER.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with what a “hair god” does, but it’s essentially this: he makes your hair look effing awesome.
Scotty has been my personal hair god for years. Fans of Howard TV’s “The Bonus Show” may remember my ever changing locks from episode to episode, all courtesy of Scott.
A little about him: Scott Wasserman has been a professional stylist for over ten years. He studied at the L’Oreal Academy in Soho, New York City, with the top technicians in the business and performs expertly all haircutting techniques for men and women, hair extensions, lace front wigs, and is a specialist in all types of color applications. Along with his beloved clientelle at Hair & the City, Scott works with top commercial photographers on editorial and fine art photography as well as hair for television, film, special events and fashion shows.
So, as I made my wedding day plans, there was no one I wanted by my neurotic side more than Scott. Who graciously dropped everything to make me & my peeps look amazing.
Consult the evidence:
So, the next time you need a hair cut, you know where to go. I am willing to share my hair god with you, my friends. But if I can’t get an appointment cause you’re all swarming him I’m going to get cranky.
On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hairandcity
Richie on Sanfords.
Wifey note: I’m passing the baton to my “husband” (!!!!) here as he actually volunteered to write a blog. Because his love of Sanfords is overflowing & he felt compelled to put pen to paper. Or finger to keyboard, actually.
Less than 10 minutes after I asked Rachel to marry me, the first thing we did was celebrate over dinner and glass of champagne. When it came to picking the spot, we didn’t even think about it. We hopped in the car and drove straight to our favorite place: Sanfords.
Let me give you a little history on the one restaurant that Rachel and I consistently go to for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and late night munchies. In 1922 Sanfords opened as a 24 hours a day / 7 days a week coffee shop in Astoria, Queens.
Jump ahead to 1975 when John Karalekas purchased it and operated it successfully for over 15 years until his 2 sons Gus and Chris took over and ran it as a local diner and an area late night favorite. A few years ago Sanfords was renovated and reborn as a neighborhood hot spot that continued the tradition of serving amazing upscale food at affordable prices.
One of the most noticeable and fantastic changes was the addition of a killer wine / beer list that can satisfy the even the biggest snob.
Now that I have given you a brief history on the business itself, let me tell you why Rachel and I have a massive love affair with Sanfords and why when it came to picking our caterer for the wedding, it was a no brainer for us. After a first few casual dates, I wanted to take Rachel to dinner at a place I frequented often and knew would be impressive. We had an amazing meal followed by the dessert that I had been talking to her about all night long… the XANGOS!!! A banana, caramel cheesecake-esque dessert that will make everyone who tries it involuntarily re-create the famous When Harry Met Sally restaurant scene. Needless to say, Rachel was impressed.
The night was perfect & I knew Rachel and I had found “our place” for dinner. For those of you who don’t know, Rachel prefers to eat at the more “sceney” types of places (whereas I prefer eating at a greasy truck stop) and she easily puts Sanfords up there with the best spots NYC has to offer. Let me run down the list of some of the amazing (and I mean A-M-A-Z-I-N-G) things on the menu at Sanfords:
First and foremost in my opinion are the pancakes. You have not had pancakes until you have tried these! Light, fluffy, with a secret ingredient that I can’t still figure out after all these years (and hundreds of pancakes) later. Recently they added a peanut butter banana pancake to the menu and although I am a purist at heart, I have to say that these are killer!!!! Try them with sausage. I know you are thinking “what’s the big deal? It’s friggin’ sausage”…but trust me when I say it’s the best you will ever have.
Rachel’s favorite dish and her first pick for the wedding menu was the Butternut Squash Ravioli. If there was a hall of fame for food then this would be up there. Whenever we bring someone new with us to dinner, the ravioli is the one thing we beg them to try – and every time they come back (with or without us) we hear that they ordered it again.
Next we need to discuss the award-winning and oh so kick ass pulled pork sandwich. It’s consistently a tri-state award-winning dish. Many people I know consider it one of the best they’ve ever had. In fact, it’s so good that a family member of mine was in the hospital for over a month and the first thing she asked for after being discharged was “that pulled pork sandwich from Sanfords”.
As far as other menu items go, let me plant these thoughts in your head… hangar steak with asparagus and mashed sweet potato.
Did that make your mouth water? Then how about a peasant salad with the perfect amount of feta & a light greek dressing. Or the duck burger stuffed with gouda. And of course you have to end your fantastic meal with some xangos or Sanfords take on every kid’s favorite meal… cookies and milk. This time the cookie is an oversized warm, thick chocolate chip served with a tall, cold glass of milk.
When our circle of friends want to go out for a nice dinner, this is almost always the spot we pick for a guaranteed great night.
As I said before, there was no way that we weren’t going to have Sanfords cater our wedding. Hell, we picked the caterer BEFORE we even decided on the venue! That’s how much we love this place. Over the years nearly all of my co-workers have come to eat there with Rachel and I and now they come and bring their family and friends. Whenever Rachel’s family is in town, it’s a given that there will be at least one breakfast and one dinner at Sanfords. We even had a follower on Twitter write us and say they came to NY from Canada on vacation and had to try the food at Sanfords because we rave about it so much. They tweeted “Went to @SanfordsAstoria and it was the greatest quesadilla ever”.
Owners Gus and Chris Karalekas have made Sanfords into a “must visit” place for everyone in Astoria as well as throughout the Tri-state area. I know people who travel from NJ, CT and Long Island just to dine there. Trust me when I say this place has everything to please the palate. Award-winning food, award-winning selection of wines and a beer list that has bloggers and beer fanatics flocking to Queens.
Heck, if you STILL don’t believe me then check out the news reports!
Then go follow them on twitter: https://twitter.com/SanfordsAstoria
And like ’em on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SANFORDS.RESTAURANT
On that note, I am off to have some pancakes and try to figure out that recipe…
On twitter: @richiewilsonnyc
The aptly named staffing company: Enjoy Your Party, Inc.
We had a caterer pretty much from the minute we got engaged. Because our home away from home (oven away from oven?) is http://www.sanfordsnyc.com/. There was no way they wouldn’t be feeding our friends & family the way they feed us pretty much every day. And while we locked down that dream team without hesitation, we were still going to need to find a staffing company up to the challenge.
Which sounds easy, I know. But it’s so not. To me, a make or break element to a great party is the staff. If I have to wander aimlessly for 20 minutes looking for a place to put down my empty glass & crumpled cocktail napkin, I’m going to be cranky. And especially since we were doing passed food only & no formal seated dinner, I wanted to make sure we had extra staff there to get food in & out of everyone’s hands as quickly & professionally as possible.
I met with a couple different companies, but ultimately, Rosanna Morlando at Enjoy Your Party (http://www.enjoyyourparty.com/ ) won my heart. This woman is awesome (as evidenced by this article: http://topfemaleexecutives.com/Rosanna-Morlando). First off, I just liked her right away. I felt confident & comfortable that her team was going to handle the staffing, soup to nuts (just not any of the actual soup or nut preparation).
The night of our wedding (and throughout all of the neurotic lead up to it), Rosanna was absolutely my rock. I had utter trust in her to just handle it. And handle it she did. Her team was well-dressed, professional, friendly & attentive. And here’s my favorite part- Rosanna put together a plate of food and made me actually eat something. Which I would not have, had it not been for that act of kindness. Honestly, I don’t know what else I could have asked for. I love these guys.
So go follow them on twitter ( https://twitter.com/enjoyyourparty1) & like em on facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/enjoyyourparty ) and trust that when you need a staffing company, I’ve successfully pointed you to the absolute best in the biz.
Because the “Day Of” must be “Coordinated”.
So, now that the wedding insanity is over (hallelujah!) I finally have some free time to finish telling you about the details that made the big day the best day. I’ve gotten emails from many of you asking about weding planners & day of coordinators and, as always, I’m here to help.
As you know by now, I was pretty much the neurotic control freak I never thought I’d become during the wedding planning. And while I was more than capable of (killing myslef) doing every single detail, on the actual day of the wedding, I had a very clear plan of letting go & doing my best to just enjoy the fruits of my labor. Which I’m not entirely sure is possible, but I’m certain it’s NOT without the help of a professional.
Enter Wanda Nunez of Simply Wanda, aka Day of Coordinator Extraordinaire. Here’s where you go to start learning about her: http://about.me/simplywandainc
Let me tell you why having a Day of Coordinator (or “DOC” as we call them in the biz) is non-negotiable. So, we all plan a timeline of events. But what many people don’t know is that without a pro who is wearing a watch & can hold you to that precise plan, there’s no chance of it actually happening. It’s also fantastic to have another set of hands with an organized checklist to catch the stuff you’ve let fall through the cracks.
And Wanda’s just really nice, which helps. She had a way of calming me down with a stern look & words of assurance that actually made ME (neurtic, control freak bridezilla) calm the heck down.
Go forth & be coordinated,
Let There Be (Professional) Light!
I’ll never forget the first time I opened a wedding magazine & saw advertisements for 12 million companies that were, apparently, completely necessary if I were to throw any kind of respectable party. I remember things starting to go black as I nearly passed out from the number of things I had NEVER considered needing.
I figured you just turn off half the lights so it’s a little dark & sexy and maybe put out some candles. In fact, when I thought about hiring a lighting company (and EVERYTHING I read on The Knot said DON’T SKIMP ON LIGHTING!), I figured they were talking about a disastrous collection of neon colored spinning shapes effing up my dance floor with their tackiness. No. Thank. You.
So, you can imagine my surprise & delight when I met Christopher Reilly from C & C Special Event Productions, part lighting designer, part artist. Here’s what I loved about them:
Chris has been doing lighting for 25 years & he likes to convey a warm, sexy vibe. When I talked to him, the big thing he schooled me on is the fact that you DON’T have to spend a million bucks to get great lighting. C & C prides themselves on being affordable (hallelujah). And they never farm out the contract to some random employee on the big day. Since they only book 1-2 events a weekend, you always get one of the owners at the event. And those owners are Chris & his wife Christine. I love a family-owned business.
When I met with Chris to walk through the space, I got excited seeing the lighting through his eyes. How he will uplight the columns & showcase the architecture, add LED tea lights for ambiance, use a soft amber glow to differentiate the dance floor. Just talking about it, you could feel his passion. And then I pretty much melted when he said he gets a little misty on watching first dances. These guys live & breath lighting and they legitimately care.
I asked him about the heinous spinning neon shapes that I think of when someone says “lighting” & Chris told me that their biggest competition is DJs, who “do lighting”…in the horrendous manner I’ve described, one size fits all. As Chris so aptly put it, would you let your lighting guy DJ your event?
And now I shall share these pictures so you get what I’m talking about. Lights DRASTICALLY change the vibe of the space. Who knew?
(Just in case you need to find these wizards for your own wedding. Or party. Or event. Or to perfectly light you as you walk down the street in your supermodel fantasies)
Bachelorette Part 1
Guest Blog by Ellie Dvorkin
Hello, Gorgeous People!
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ellie, and thanks to the willingness of the Universal Life Church to issue me a certificate of ordination, I will be officiating the wedding ceremony of Rachel and Richie this September. You may call me Father Ellie (I like it, even though I am a female), or The Reverend Blue Jeans (which is what I thought Neil Diamond was saying in his song, “Forever in Blue Jeans”, when I was a little girl).
But wait… there’s MORE. As the only one of Rachel’s oldest and dearest friends who actually lives in New York, it fell upon me to oversee the planning of Rachel’s Bachelorette Party Part 1 (Part 2 is a strip club related non-family friendly official co-bachelor/bachelorette filled with a debauchery inappropriate for some of the Part 1 guest list).
Planning this party stressed me out more that I let Rachel know, because for some reason, while I am super calm about conducting the wedding proceedings, party-planning makes me panicky. Everyone’s enjoyment is in the hands of the organizer! It’s a lot of responsibility! Exclamation points!! ALL CAPS!!!
In all fairness, I did have e-help from Rachel’s sisters and her Maid of Honor. They brought amazing things with them when they arrived in town, but for the months preceding the event, I was Planny McPlanstein, making the plans and sorting out the logistics. (I’m not asking for a pat on the back here, I’m merely explaining why I’m the one writing this blog entry. Shall I stop with the parentheses now? Methinks I shall.)
Rachel told me early on that due to the mixed interests of the women who would be in attendance, the stereotypical night on the town would not be the ideal scenario. She wanted a chill, albeit booze-infused, evening full of yummy snacks, relaxation, and good old fashioned girly fun. And since there ain’t no party like a slumber-style party, that’s exactly what we had!
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
The Ink48 Hotel, people. Why have you never been there? If you live in New York, it’s so worth hoofing it to 11th Avenue to have rooftop cocktails in The Press Lounge. It’s one of the sexiest rooftop bars in the city. Just trust me and go there. Or, if you’re visiting from out of town, the Ink48 is the ideal place to stay because it’s walking distance from Times Square, but far enough that you aren’t in the midst of the annoying hullabaloo.
We had a gorgeous Junior Suite on the 14th floor, with gigantic windows overlooking the Hudson River. Add one empty fridge (for the white wine and champagne), one inflatable bed (to make more sleep space), and copious amounts of penis-y decorations, and voila! Our Slumber Chamber was complete!
CHEESE + DIPS = DINNER
Rachel and I have always been in favor of skipping a traditional entrée in exchange for the ability to load up on delicious cheeses and dips. It has gotten to the point where she no longer asks me if I want to meet for dinner, she asks if I want to meet for cheese. One of our favorite places to do this is Kashkaval. Upon first sight, Kashkaval looks like a market because there is deli-style counter service right inside the entryway, but further back is a cozy dining room with a fireplace and brick walls and all the wine and melty cheesy fondue goodness a person could hope for. When I learned that Kashkaval also has catering services with amazing platters of tapas and cheeses and meats and Mediterranean dips, I was sold. Just look…
LOOK WHAT THEY BROUGHT US:
Do you even know how happy Rachel was? And there was other stuff not pictured here, like pastries filled with spinach and feta and lots of pita for the dips. It was all so delicious and perfect. Definitely check out http://www.kashkaval.com/catering and use them for your next party. It’s a no-brainer.
AY, THERE’S THE RUB
Rachel wanted a massage station. Of course she did. Who wouldn’t? So I reached out to Mark Fisher Fitness’s bodywork wizard, John O’Mahoney. He was tall, strong, sexy, charismatic, and he was TALENTED. He was PERFECT. And he spent a lot of time on my BUTT. I’ll probably re-infiltrate this blog at a later date to say more once the official bodywork program at MFF has been rolled out, but in the meantime, enjoy the pecs and triceps on John. I know we did:
The rest was just silliness. We drank wine, we gobbled chocolate, we played games involving panties…it was perfection. While I was getting my much-needed rubdown, I overheard Rachel say it was the bachelorette party of her dreams. Great success! Nothing has ever made me happier…
…except this pic of Rachel with a penis-shaped squirt gun: